April 1, 2010

YouTube Unveils Redesigned Site

On Wednesday, Google rolled out a major redesign of its YouTube site aimed at clearing out visual noise and capturing the attention of viewers.

"We really felt like we needed to step back and remove the clutter," Google product manager Shiva Rajaraman told the AFP news agency as he provided an in-depth look at the revamped YouTube home page which was fully rolled out late Wednesday.

"Changes are based on how people actually use YouTube."

YouTube engineers said they studied the way people use the site and modified the home page accordingly.  The number of links the home page offers has been cut in half.

Information about videos is now grouped in a single place below the video, and the side of the page is now dedicated to viewing recommended videos.

There is a cleaned up "action bar" for sharing, flagging or embedding videos.

A modified playlist tool makes it easier to queue up videos for viewing or to skip from one to another.

YouTube replaced its five-star ranking system with a simple "likes/dislikes" choices for viewers.

YouTube interface designer Julian Fumar told AFP that the majority of ratings entered are five-stars while a meager percentage of one-star ratings get logged and almost no one rates videos in between.

The people who create videos will be spotlighted in YouTube comment forums about the video and will also be able to add brand names to titles of their works.

YouTube has tested its new page design with some users for a couple months, but the changes were publicly made across the entire site by the end of Wednesday.

According to Rajaraman, the basic objective of the new design is to get people to spend more time at YouTube.  Americans spend about 15 minutes a day on YouTube compared to about five hours of watching television.

"We wanted to refocus on the playback experience and optimize sessions," Rajaraman said while discussing the overhaul with bloggers at YouTube's headquarters in the Northern California city of San Bruno.

"We asked ourselves, 'How do we turn 15 minutes into an hour on YouTube?'"

Although the changes do not include direct revenue-generating features, the more time people spend at the site the more they will invariably see or click on ads that pull in money for Google, which owns YouTube.

The company boasts itself as being the second most searched website on the Internet.  Engineers streamlined and improved ways people find videos at the website to take advantage of this.

"We'd like to make it so we don't force users to hunt for things all the time," Rajaraman said. "We would just like to bring it to them."

YouTube is going to set up a "war room" that will allow users to provide feedback on the modifications.

"Essentially we want to figure out how we get people to find their first video, search for their next video and never get to their last video," said YouTube spokesman Chris Dale.

YouTube said earlier on this month that 24 hours worth of video are being uploaded to the site each minute. 


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